The IFJ’s 29th World Congress opened today in Angers, France with a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of what has become the world’s largest organisation of journalists, representing 600,000 journalists in 140 countries.
More than 300 delegates, representing journalists unions across the world, joined IFJ President Jim Boumelha to mark the founding of the IFJ in France in 1926, before moving on to the crucial issue of building stronger unions and involving more young workers in an evolving media.
The conference opened with a presentation by Kaarle Nordenstreng, the former head of the International Organisation of Journalists and author of A History of the International Movement of Journalists. He was joined by Michel Diard, former General Secretary of the SNJ-CGT in France, Vsevolod Bogdanov, President of the Russian Union of Journalists, Francois Boissarie, former first General Secretary of the SNJ in France and current IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.
Whilst a look back is important most of the first day of the Congress was concerned with building for the future with the launch of a global survey of the state of unions with a focus on how to organise young workers in an evolving media.
Delegates from Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas discussed their experience of organising, recruiting, campaigning and providing services for young workers starting out in a career in journalism.
Union leaders from Brazil, the UK, Sweden and Japan also discussed the importance of strong unions in protecting journalists rights – both staff and freelance – and defending press freedom.
The final session of the day focused on plans for the next ten years, with the IFJ expected to pledge action on tackling issues particularly affecting young workers - low pay, precarious employment and the denial of rights at work. Leading union campaigners from Peru, Morocco and France shared their experiences.
IFJ President Jim Boumelha said: “It is right we celebrate our history but also focus on building for the future. That means organising young journalists and fighting for their rights, it means building strong unions that can defend and extend rights in an evolving media”.
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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries